As is always the case in the UK, we get one or two brilliantly, blindingly, unbearably hot days, which tend to lead to constant perspiration and severe lack of sleep at night. No one is prepared for it – and everyone panics, its all anyone can talk about.
As we all know, as the weather changes, so does our appetite. As we sit there, baking like a crispy baked potato, the things we crave most are super refreshing, light and hydrating meals. From chilled soups, crisp salads, fresh fish and, of course, ice cold desserts, we have collated all our favourite summer recipes for you to whip up in less than 15 minutes:
For many people, the thought of a cold soup is far from appealing. Soups are supposed to be hot and comforting, perfect for a cold winters day. However, once you try this refreshing and very healthy gazpacho, you will be a fully converted lover of this chilled Spanish dish.
It’s quick and easy, requiring no cooking, just a bit of chopping, squishing, and blitzing. It’s cut through with cool, calming cucumber, and spiked with sherry vinegar (although if you don’t have this, a splash of actual sherry would be delightful); a generous addition of punchy, raw garlic ensures you won’t fall victim to any vampires after a bowlful and also gives the soup its high notes. Add green pepper for the slightest bitterness, whereas the bread smooths out the soup, giving it a body and a silkiness that means you don’t feel like you’re just eating a jar of passata with a spoon.
Although not a common salad, the mixture of different seasonal vegetables, as well as the salty anchovy, make a taste sensation when enjoying this salad.
The fiddliest part of this recipe is roasting the peppers. You can buy very good jars of roasted peppers, which I use if I’m in a rush. However I would encourage you to try it out yourself, as these are such a versatile ingredient. Once roasted, you can do so much with them – marinade with basil & thyme and serve on crostini, toss through pasta with parsley and capers or simply serve alongside a barbecued joint of lamb – that flavour combination is wonderful.
A vintage classic. And for very good reason.
Simply crispy chicken, sourdough croutons, romaine lettuce and plenty of parmesan. We also have outlined an easy and affective recipe for the dressing, which will undoubtedly set this caesar salad apart from the others.
This recipe pairs the first of the summer tomatoes with the sensational ridged cucumbers you can grow in your garden or find in a good greengrocer. It would work equally well with another oily fish like salmon, which you could roast en papillote with the dill and lemon. I would stick to oily fish, as their dense flesh contrasts nicely with the bright, acidic salad.
For a more robust meal, serve with gently boiled new potatoes or a bowl of herbed couscous.
Greek salad is always a summer crowd pleaser: cool, crisp, crunchy, and packed with flavour. No roasting chicken, no boiling noodles or poaching eggs, no frying lardons or croutons, this salad requires no more than a little gentle chopping. And better still, everything apart from the tomatoes can come straight from the fridge. Tomatoes kept in the fridge lose their flavour, go wooly in texture, so are best kept at room temperature – but the salty feta, bitter kalamata olives, and cooling cucumber are all fridge-ready.
Letting the red onion sit in ice water for a few minutes after slicing but before serving takes away its onion astringency, while ensuring it doesn’t flop into sliminess (even in this heat!) and instead retains its bite. This really is a fantastically easy salad: one that was designed to be made and enjoyed in the summer heat.
You can turn this into a delightful lunch with some grilled chicken and boiled new potatoes tossed in a little butter, but the salad will happily accompany a surprisingly large array of dishes – try it as part of a barbecue, or with whole baked fish, or just add torn lettuce and serve alongside really great bread, and maybe some strong cheddar.
Particularly in weather like this, no-churn ice cream is a godsend. Just the thought of standing over a pan of steaming custard in this sticky, sloppy weather makes me break out in a sweat. None of that is needed for no-churn. Almost implausibly simple, no-churn is one of those delicious kitchen cheats that, once you try, you’ll find yourself employing once a week: softly whipped cream, a bit of condensed milk straight from the can, and your flavouring of choice folded through.
We’ve chosen pistachio here, because we adore the natural sweetness of the nuts and the aroma they release when crushed – it works so well with the condensed milk, and tastes of holidays and sunshine.
Granita is a sweet, water-based iced dish. It originated in Sicily, before spreading through the rest of Italy. Although its texture varies, it is made by scraping or agitating the ice crystals as they freeze, which produces a rougher, icier finish than a sorbet.
Granita should, above all things, be refreshing. Sweet-sharp flavours are best here: although you can technically freeze any liquid down, then scrape it up and call it a granita, fruits with a bit of a punch, a bit of zing are best. Pineapple is perfect for this, especially when combined with the zip of fresh lime juice. Pineapple cries out for booze –even in its virgin form, it tastes like a mixed cocktail – and spirits like vodka are often used in sorbets and granitas to soften the end product; here I’ve used tequila, which achieves a softer freeze, but also gives it an unmistakable hit.